A Good Night’s Sleep

low angle view of spiral staircase against black background
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I used to have rather vivid dreams with tons of details that I was able to remember. Of late I know that I dream because I have memories of some kind of story playing out in my brain just before I awake, but I literally can’t recall a thing about what was happening. I began to worry that perhaps there was something wrong with my inability to relive my nocturnal adventures in the light of day, so I did a bit of research. I surprisingly found that we humans are more likely to have recollections of our dreams when we are feeling generally anxious or stressed. The fact that I am less able to outline the details of what has occupied my mind during my slumbers is actually an indication that I’m feeling rather relaxed about my life these days.

It came as a relief to learn that I have not lost my creativity or otherwise become forgetful simply because I wake up unable to devoid of knowledge about my dreams. Based on my research it seems as though I must have been under a great deal of pressure at various times in the past because I am still able to tell about nighttime visions from other times that were quite remarkable in their clarity. There are even a couple of them that recurred so often that I have sometimes wondered if they contain some element of reality that I have as yet been able to piece together. At the very least there may be some symbolism related to the worries that I must have had whenever they haunted me while I slept.

Two of my most frequent dreams were so real that to this day I find myself wondering if the events in them may have actually occurred in some form. I have spent a great deal of time trying to relate them to something that I once did. So far I have been unable to view them as anything other than a kind of nightmarish tendency of the brain to work out my daytime concerns with a nighttime rerun.

In one dream I drive up to an unnamed school that looks familiar and yet I don’t actually know where it is. I immediately go to a large theater where an expert is conducting a seminar. I listen intently to the lecture which is rather dry, but for some strange reason I feel uneasy about it. Each time I arise in the morning after having this dream I feel drained and uncomfortable as though there is some hidden message inside its content that I need to uncover, but that revelation never comes to me. I haven’t even been able to tie its symbolism to anything concrete other than a kind of vague feeling that I have somehow left something undone in my life. Perhaps I will never figure it out, and maybe I don’t even need to do so.

In the other dream I am walking through a beautifully landscaped area when I see a lovely little bungalow that seems to invite me inside even though I don’t know whose home it is. There are roses growing near the entryway and lights glow in the windows. The first room that I see is warm and cozy with big overstuffed chairs, a Persian rug and a fireplace with a warm and aromatic fire. I feel happy there and want to sit down and stay for a time, but I see a staircase and my curiosity gets the best of me. I climb eagerly at first but the area is narrow and grows darker and more foreboding as I near the top. My heart begins to beat inside my throat and while I want to run away I keep inching slowly forward. When I finally arrive at the upstairs landing I see a large single room that runs the entire length of the house. The crazy thing is that the area even exists, because when I first approached the place it appeared to be a single story home, so I am confused about how this room came to be. Inside are many twin beds that seem to indicate that it is a kind of dormitory, or the sleeping quarters of a very large family. Each bed is neatly made and there is no sign of any kind of decoration. The inviting aspect of the downstairs is missing from the sterile environment of the upper room. It feels as though something terrible is going to happen there.

While I am gazing at the scene in confusion and disbelief I see the shadowy figure of a person in the far corner. I become intensely fearful and yet I am unable to flee. I stand frozen in place watching like a caged little bird. It is so dark that I cannot make out the features of the individual to determine if it is a man or a woman, someone young or old. Just as I think my vision has adjusted enough for me to finally draw some conclusions I always wake up feeling exhausted and shaken for reason unknown to me.

This dream has come to me decade after decade and has so many details that I always believe that if I were just once able to finally view the face of the figure in corner everything might become clear to me. For some reason it feels all too terribly real and yet I know for certain that I have never seen such a house before. My mind is playing a trick on me just as dreams often do.

There are psychologists who believe that dreams hold keys to our personalities and individuals who specialize in interpreting them. I sometimes think it would be fun to find out what these sorts think might be the reasons for the repetitions that have come to me again and again. Most of my dreams are easy to understand. I run from some danger in many of them. I am in a cave surrounded by snakes in another. I am perched on a trapeze high above the world wondering how I am going to get down. In some I am back in school as a student and I learn that I have forgotten to turn in a critical assignment and my degrees are stripped from me. These are garden variety nightmares that speak to my past stresses. I have never thought of them as being real as I do with the ones that I described above.

I suppose that I’ll just accept that at least for now I am so relaxed that my nights are uneventful. It’s nice to arise feeling refreshed rather than as though I have been on a battlefield all night long. Nonetheless, I wonder if those dreams actually hold the keys to better  understanding ourselves. Perhaps in unlocking their secrets I might actually become a better version of myself. It’s a fun idea but for now I’m content with a good night’s sleep.

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